LACONIA — The owner of Big Island in Paugus Bay, which is in the residential single family zoning district, has asked the City Council to add the property to the commercial resort district instead.
Of the three islands in Paugus Bay — Plummer, Big and Little — Big is the second largest at 2.9 acres. It sits about 1,200 feet east of the marina at South Down Shores and some 1,500 feet north of Paugus Park Road. Currently there is a three-bedroom seasonal camp of approximately 1,250-square-feet, which was built in 1950, and outhouse and a dock on the island. The camp is served by a dug well that draws water from the lake.
Scott Everett, the founder and president of Supreme Lending, a mortgage lender headquartered in Dallas, Texas, who was raised and still summers in the Lakes Region, purchased the island in 2012 for $725,000. In 2014 he conveyed the island to NH-Big Island Co. with the intention of developing a seasonal camp, owned and operated by a charitable corporation, which he would endow. Since a camp is not a permitted use in the single family family district, Everett applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance, but withdrew the request when it met with stiff opposition from mainland residents, particularly property owners on Paugus Park Road.
In applying to rezone the island, attorney Pat Wood, representing Everett, stresses that the limited number of uses permitted in the residential single family district severely restricts the development of the island. He cites the Master Plan, among which is to "review and revise all commercial and industrial zoning districts in the city for appropriateness and for improved possibilities for economic development."
In the single family residential district, single family home, accessory apartment, emergency housing or bed and breakfast would be permitted, but only a residence would be practical. Educational uses are possible but not feasible and would require a special exception as would a limited number of commercial uses.
"There is very limited opportunity for this property to be developed economically as long as it is in the RS district," Wood writes.
However, in the commercial resort district Wood explains that the range of permitted uses would be much greater and include a lodging house, gallery, restaurant, artist's studio, retail store professional office, arts center, conference center and campground. He notes that the island will be served by municipal water and sewer along with electricity, telephone and cable television.
The Zoning Ordinance provides that property owners may petition the City Council to change the boundaries of zoning districts if they represent "50 percent or more of the land area affected by a petition." Since Everett, as the owner of the island, represents 100 percent of the owners of the property that would be affected, he is entitled to present a petition.
The council will consider Everett's request when it meets on Monday, Sept. 12 and within 30 days must determine whether to refer it to the Planning Board. The Planning Board must schedule a public hearing within 30 days of receiving the request and within 90 days of receiving the request must present a recommendation to the council, which then has 60 days to take action.
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